About a year ago I published an article titled ‘2102, Nostradamus, Mayan Calendar, Oh My!’ The article was a light-hearted look at the year 2012 and some of its inauspicious predictions. Quite surprisingly, that article has been picked up and published on hundreds of websites and blogs over the past 12 months and I continually receive email from readers and webmasters around the world urging me to write more about this rapidly approaching year (it has also been plagiarized to the point of absurdity). While the interest in my 2012 article is both encouraging and flattering, I think the success of the piece really suggests two simple realities:
1) As with all good doomsday scenarios, the year 2012 does possess enough legitimacy to elevate it beyond the realm of fanatical musings, which is giving it momentum and mystery, and
2) people have a fascination with narratives related to doom and catastrophe, and the internet has become the vehicle which has moved this fascination into a full-blown obsession. Let’s look at each in turn.
Among other associations both absurd and reasonable, the year 2012 is increasingly associated with changes in the Sun and cycles of celestial bodies. Indeed, the Mayan calendar (from which 2012 musings owe their origins) is principally a measurement of celestial and natural cycles. The ancient Maya believed that all of life is essentially cyclical, and that time itself is cyclical. Think about it, the days (night and day), the seasons, the years, and so on, all have their roots in cyclical movements: the earth cycles around its axis creating the days, while the moon cycles around the earth creating the months, while both simultaneously cycle around the sun creating the years, and so on. The human body follows natural cycles as well: human gestation is cyclical and even life follows a cyclical formula: birth, growth, maturity, decay, death, and over again…ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Time and reality are essentially cycles within cycles, believed they Maya, and their calendar reflects this cyclical metaphysic.
However, we contemporary thinkers have been programmed to believe that time and reality flow linearly – yesterday before today, and today before tomorrow, etc. – and our orientation to life reflects this cognitive programming. While a linear orientation to time is useful and it certainly helps us to manage our busy lives, it is arguable that the Mayan’s were closer to the truth: time is essentially cyclical…and it repeats itself. Ever heard the saying that a broken clock is still correct two times a day?
What does this have to do with the Sun and the year 2012? This will take some explanation…
The sun is our source of life, the alpha and the omega. Without the sun, life could not exist, period; so it is quite logical that primitive cultures created a mythology to worship this great source of life. Indeed, the sun is the source of untold miracles: it walks on water (reflection), turns water to wine (sunrise), cures the sick (fever), raises the dead (spring re-growth), travels with 12 companions (the 12 signs of the zodiac, and the source of your horoscope), and even holds a place of honor in our cognitive construct of the week (Sunday, the day of rest). In fact, most religious holidays are really milestones of sun worship. Christmas is in honor of the sun’s rebirth after the December milestone of the winter solstice is reached; Easter and the Passover recognize the sun’s ‘passing over’ the mid-point in its rise past the spring equinox and the beginning of the harvest season (a big deal in primitive times), and so on.
And like all celestial bodies, the sun – our source of life and the object of both adoration and fear – follows a pattern of cycles within cycles. The ancient Maya knew this, and we are just now learning it.
The sun is currently pulling out of a cycle of minimal activity and ramping up towards what many argue will be a solar event of biblical proportions. Without getting too technical, the sun follows a generally predictable pattern of solar activity represented by sunspots; these cycles are referred to as solar minimums and solar maximums and flux on an 11-year cycle (there is that number again…). A solar minimum is a time when there is little or no sunspot activity; conversely, a maximum is a time of tremendous sunspot activity. Interestingly, the next solar maximum is predicted to peak in the latter part of the year 2102, strangely corresponding to the Mayan long count calendar cycle ending date of 12/21/2012, a Great Year that the Mayan’s believed would end in a cataclysm of fire. This maximum, argue many, will be one of the most spectacular on record.
What is particularly interesting, and somewhat disturbing, is that our sun is also pulling out of a period of prolonged inactivity – a minimum that has both scholars and thoughtful Newsrooms observers mystified. Could this be the calm before the storm? And if so, what will that storm look like and how will it impact life on earth? Does the strange confluence of all these cycles (and I have not mentioned several other cycles that end in the year 2012) suggest that the earth is on the cusp of a solar event of unimaginable proportions? It is well documented in the scientific literature that sunspot activity affects the earth in unpredictable ways… Are we in store for a season of unprecedented geophysical, geothermal and meteorological unpredictability? All ancient traditions, both oral and written, have stories of a great cataclysm by water (such as Noah’s flood); are these traditions really semi-coded warnings to later generations to be on the lookout for the Sun’s next coming? Should we be worried that the last Mayan Long Count Cycle ending was marked by a great flood and the 2012 cycle ending is supposed to mark change by fire?